Family / Drama
1953 / 92 minutes
When I first found this film and read in the description that the hero was Mary Tudor, that was too much for me. Mary Tudor was a Roman Catholic queen of England in the years 1553 to 1558 who gained her nickname, Bloody Mary, for her vicious persecution of the Protestant Church. This was the Hollywoodization of history gone too far, and I had no interest in watching a film about her romantic life.
But then I realized that this Mary Tudor wasn’t that Mary Tudor. This film was about the sister of Henry VIII, rather than his devilish daughter. And so I took a look.
As the sister to the king, Mary has some gumption, and is much admired by all the young men of the court. But as the sister to the king, her marriage prospects are tied up with her brother’s political machinations, and there’s no advantage to him to marry her off to an Englishman. He wants her to marry the aged King of France.
She, however, is a very stubborn lady, so it’s an open question as to whether she’ll do as he says. It’s only when she falls in love with the Captain of the Guard, and tries to sail off to the New World with him, that the king gains the upper hand. The couple is caught, and Mary’s knight in shining armor is going to be hung for treason… unless she submits to her brother’s wishes and marries the French king.
There are some exciting twists and turns in the plot that I won’t give away, but I will note there is, ultimately, a happy ending for all.
The broad outlines of the story are based on history, and if that is how the film is enjoyed – as very loosely based on a true story – then it is quite a tale. But for those who are more concerned with accuracy, they may object to Henry VIII being portrayed as a rascal more than a rogue, or to the unsympathetic portrayal of his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, who was later treated shamefully by him.
There are some sword fights, but this is an old-fashioned Disney film so there is no blood or gore.
Our whole family quite enjoyed it, though our youngest, at 7, needed the film to be paused at times, so we could explain the historical context of what was going on. (She didn’t get how a brother could decide for a woman who she would marry.) This is a “Disneyfied” version of history, and that is both its strength and weakness, suitable for all ages, but kinder and gentler than the events really were.